Why was James labelled by his school classmates as a ‘square’, ‘goody-goody-two-shoes’ and ‘teacher’s pet’?

‘I was the good kid—the one who obeyed the rules and did what the teachers asked. Why did I behave like that? Was it because I thought my efforts would earn me rewards? Was I seeking accolades and recognition? Was I trying to make up for something bad I’d done in the past?

‘Perhaps you were like me yourself, or maybe you knew someone like me. In all of us I think there’s a desire to be good, but if we’re honest with ourselves, we know we’re not good. I know this now and I even knew this as a young boy.

‘I had learned about Jesus from a young age. My parents, my church, and the Bible all had a hand in shaping me and telling me of Jesus’ incredible sacrifice—the undeserved grace that he offered.

‘It is common to think that living a good life will be enough to get to heaven. That if the good outweighs the bad, you’ll be okay. That if you avoid stealing or murdering, you’ll be fine.

‘The Bible says the opposite—“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). That means everyone has a sin problem to deal with, but the truth is that we are incapable of earning our own righteousness. No matter how many good acts we do or how much money we give away, we will never be good enough to be considered righteous before God.

‘What amazes me is that God provided the solution to my sin problem—“righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” (Romans 3:22). Jesus alone was considered righteous before God, and he gave his life as a sacrifice for me! Thanks to him I could believe in him and be saved. His death and resurrection demonstrated his righteousness and proved that I could be redeemed through faith in him. How incredible! My salvation is not dependent on being a good person!

‘This knowledge shaped my behaviour in school and continues to shape my life today. Every day I want my thoughts, actions and words to show my gratitude to Jesus for all he has done for me. I love God because he first loved me, and I seek to love others out of thankfulness for the grace I have received. I pray that you, too, will understand that Jesus is the solution to your sin problem. Put your faith in him and receive his grace!’

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